Too weird to check: New poll of Nevada has ... Tom Steyer leading, Klobuchar second

This is an obvious outlier from other Nevada polls and probably shouldn’t be trusted given the small sample size of 256 voters. In fact, the tight clustering of the top five candidates here plus the sizable margin of error (5.7 points) means any one of them could be leading in reality.

Having said that, we should root very hard for this outcome when Nevadans go to caucus on Saturday, followed by another surprise Steyer victory in South Carolina (where he’s advertising aggressively) the following week. That would be the “maximum chaos” scenario for the Democratic primary. Imagine mainstream liberals having to choose between commie symp Bernie Sanders, billionaire Tom Steyer, and mega-mega-billionaire Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday.

Oh, did I forget to mention that Elizabeth Warren doesn’t crack the top five?

I’m a leetle bit skeptical that little-known Amy Klobuchar has parlayed a third-place finish in New Hampshire into a second-place position in Nevada. Even she has, the fact that five candidates are separated by six points while 17 percent remain undecided means we can’t draw any firm conclusions from the data about who’s likely to win. I also can’t help noticing that fully 49.4 percent of this poll’s sample consists of voters 65 and over even though the entrance poll to the 2016 Nevada caucus between Hillary and Bernie had that group as just 28 percent of the electorate. That year, voters under 40 made up 31 percent of people who turned out to caucus; in this poll, voters under 40 comprise just 13.1 percent of the sample here. Go figure that Bernie Sanders, who depends heavily on the youth vote, would do poorly in a poll where those young voters are grossly undercounted.

In fact, Democratic operatives on the ground in Nevada tell Politico that the race there is for second place. There’s no doubt who’s going to win, even according to the competition:

Advisers to three rival campaigns privately conceded over the weekend that the best anyone else could hope for here is second or third. Some of them gape at the crowd sizes at Sanders’ events — like the swarm of supporters who accompanied Sanders, his fist raised, to an early caucus site in Las Vegas on Saturday, the first day of early voting in the state…

“He’s going to win with 28 percent of the vote. We’re not talking about him getting 50 percent of the vote,” said Andres Ramirez, a Nevada-based Democratic strategist and former vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Hispanic Caucus. “But the rest of the field is so fragmented, and he has his base locked, that he can continue winning just by holding onto his base.”…

The dim prospects of anyone beating Sanders in Nevada were laid bare last week, when the state’s powerful Culinary Workers Union elected not to endorse in the presidential primary. Despite its criticism of Sanders’ signature policy proposal, Medicare for All, the union was not convinced that any other Democrat could defeat Sanders, even with the union’s endorsement, according to a source familiar with the union’s deliberations.

No one knows much about what Nevada will do but it seems increasingly likely that they’re going to put the Warren campaign out of its misery. This is the second poll in a row in which she’s clocked in at seven percent. That was good for a tie for fifth with the rising Klobuchar in the previous poll; here it’s good for sixth. Even if Joe Biden finishes a strong second in Nevada, which remains possible, a Warren disaster that flushes her out of the race before South Carolina is a dangerous proposition for him. Any dream of Warren dividing the progressive vote with Bernie the way the moderate vote is divided among multiple candidates is long gone. But Joe wants her in the race at least through SC, hoping that she can hoard a few progressive votes there from Bernie. If she quits beforehand, maybe most of her votes go to Sanders. And suddenly Joe’s firewall is at real risk of being breached.

I wonder what Super Tuesday will look like if Bernie parlays a win in Nevada into a momentous Biden-crushing upset in South Carolina. Assuming Buttigieg and Klobuchar finish far out of the running in both states, would that essentially make Super Tuesday a one-on-one contest between Sanders and Bloomberg? That’s probably the best-case scenario for the Democratic establishment at this point. And even that best-case ain’t great.

Here’s Chuck Todd asking Biden if, after all the Burisma attacks, he’d still take Lindsey Graham’s phone call once he’s elected president. I’m thinking we don’t need to worry about it much.

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